Tag Archives: Cortana

PTJ 272: Foiled Again!

This past week saw two big developer conferences unload several boxes of announcements, as Google I/O and Microsoft Build fought for media attention like Godzilla vs. Gamera. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the ramped-up interest in artificial intelligence coming out of both conferences, along with other headlines from around the technosphere. J.D. also offers suggestions for dealing with an excess of emoji, and previews new characters under consideration by the Unicode Consortium. Come sit a spell and join us for Episode 272!

Links to Stories Discussed on This Week’s Episode

Emoji World

PTJ 266: Brought to You By the Letters “P” and “S”

A preview peep of the new Android P operating system has arrived for developers and Microsoft is adding an “S” mode to the next version of Windows 10. El Kaiser and J.D. also discuss other letters in the news this week, including SEC and OMG, as in “OMG, why is the Amazon Alexa laughing by itself???” You can hear all this and more (including a discussion of software vs. treeware for news consumption) on this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam!

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Consuming News

 

PTJ 262: Waiting In the Sky

The Space Race is back on — and Elon Musk’s own cherry-red Tesla Roadster is the pace car of the 21st century, having been shot into orbit around the sun by its owner. This week, El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the SpaceX test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket on February 6th, 2018; check out the video below if you missed the Roadster-flinging launch. Elsewhere in the show, El Kaiser shares his opinion about the idea of R-rated a Star Wars movie and J.D. offers tips on how to find online streaming videos with overdubbed audio descriptions for the blind and those with limited vision. For all this — plus a roundup of the week’s tech news — just blast off Episode 262!

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Technology + Accessibility

PTJ 258: WELCOME OUR *NEWEST* ROBOT OVERLORDS

The annual Consumer Electronics Show wrapped up in Las Vegas last week, leaving El Kaiser and J.D. plenty of new gadgets to mull, from “intelligent” toilets to high-concept “social-empathy robots.” But other stuff happened outside of Vegas, too — Facebook changed up its News Feed, Spectre and Meltdown patches rolled out, and half of California seems to be suing Apple over that iPhone slowdown move. Spin up Episode 258 to hear it all!

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PTJ 234: Winging It

Facebook scrambles to blunt the effects of fake news on the United Kingdom’s upcoming election, John Oliver and his fans have suggestions for the Federal Communications Commission, Amazon’s been busy and could a fried-chicken sandwich be headed for space? El Kaiser and J.D. chew through this week’s headlines and Don Donofrio drops by with an Apple status update. All this and more on Episode 234 of Pop Tech Jam!

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Notification Nation

We’ve all gotten used to alerts popping up on our phones, telling us of Twitter replies, weather warnings, fresh mail, breaking news flashes and other important information to know while we’re on the go. If you miss having a consolidated set of notifications on your computer when you’re actually sitting at your desk, check out Apple’s Notifications Center panel for the Mac operating system and Microsoft’s Cortana assistant on Windows 10.

On either platform, you can customize and configure what you want to see when you pop open the info panel. On the Mac, click the icon in the top-right corner of the menu bar to pen the Notifications Center. Within the Notifications pane, you have two tabs: Today and Notifications. The Today tab shows you the date, time from world clocks you’ve added, news stories from favorite websites, Twitter trending topics, a stock ticker and other widgets you can add. Click the Notifications tab to see a collection of alerts you’ve received, Twitter mentions, your current iTunes track and more.

On a Windows 10 system, you can add information about the topics you want to see in Cortana in the Cortana Notebook. You can see your weather reports, track flights, check your calendar, get traffic updates, browse the latest news headlines and info on your favorite sports teams when you pop open Cortana.

Desktop notifications have another advantage: You’ve got more screen real estate and can multitask with other open programs and windows. Trying doing that on a 5.5-inch phone screen…

PTJ 199: Conventional Wisdom

Forget those grainy old newsreels of Republicans and Democrats putting on large hats and gathering every four years to nominate a candidate for president. Thanks to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and various other social platforms, wonks and watchers alike have instant access to high-definition video right from the arena floor, plus ongoing commentary from viewers around the world. Will this massive wall of easily accessible data make for a more informed body politic — or just lead to more online body slams? And what about those the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee that some say were courtesy of Russian operatives trying to influence the results of November? Journalist Laura M. Holson drops by PTJ HQ with her observations on it all.

And, after a week off so J.D. could work on her monitor tan, she and El Kaiser are back behind the mic with a summary of the week’s tech news, including Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo and summer projects from Microsoft and Google. Pour yourself a cool, refreshing beverage and settle on in for a listen!

PTJ 199 News: Areas of Interest

No real surprises here: Verizon won the bidding war for Yahoo’s operating business. In an apparent quest to scoop up Yahoo’s reported one billion monthly active users (while reliving those halcyon dial-up days of  The 1990s), the telecom giant agreed to pay $4.8 billion in cash for the fading purple web pioneer.  Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is still onboard Yahoo and has said she wants to stay, even if it means losing her golden parachute severance deal of about $55 million  if she’s terminated as part of the acquisition. One thing not included in the sale: Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba.

strangerIn case you’ve been holed up binging on the new Netflix series Stranger Things, even stranger things have been happening in Cleveland and Philadelphia this month as the American political party conventions came and went. There’s already been a bit of Cold War intrigue surrounding the hacked and leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee, possibly by Russians. Given the timing of the emails’ release, some are now theorizing that Russia is trying to influence the US election by swaying voters to Republican candidate Donald Trump (who seems to be just fine with Hillary Clinton getting hacked). Whatever the case, the FBI is investigating and it’s clear that cyberwarfare is on the rise. Perhaps in a related development, The White House announced this week that it now has a new scale of classifying cyberattacks.

Speaking of security, thousands of people voluntarily gave up their Twitter passwords last week to the pop star Jack Johnson, who nicely asked his four million followers to send him their login information. Kids, it’s all feels and fame until someone gets majorly hacked. Just ask the IT department of the DNC.

trollOn the topic of Twitter, the bird-themed  is launching a new marketing campaign where it will attempt to explain why it’s a unique delivery mechanism for breaking news and gossip. However, do not expect any mention of the colossal amount of troll poop that clogs the best of timelines.

Does two-factor authentication  via SMS make you feel safer?  TechCrunch and a few other sites are reporting that the National Institute for Standards and Technology is concerned that SMS is not suitably secure and is circulating a document called the Digital Authentication Guideline while accepting comments on the GitHub site.

In international Unmanned Aviation Vehicle news, Amazon is stepping up its testing of delivery drones in Britain. The übermegaeverything store is even partnering with the UK government to expand the experiments, which are scheduled to begin immediately.  Tea drones ay five o’clock!

teadrone

Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade offer for Windows 7 and 8.1 users ends this month, so if you didn’t get it before July 29th, you probably didn’t want Windows 10 in the first place and fought hard to avoid it. If you did install Windows 10 (or bought a new computer that already had it), look out on August 2nd for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the biggest upgrade heave since last November.

Microsoft also announced updates to its Office 365 suite, including a new Researcher service for Microsoft Word that helps you find, fit in and format reliable and legitimate resources to cite in your academic papers. Word has also been updated with a virtual cloud-based writing assistant called Editor that provides better document proofreading and analysis of your writing, which might make it less painful for you to compose and others to read.

Microsoft has added a new feature called Zoom to PowerPoint as well. Zoom can easily create interactive non-linear presentations for those who really don’t care about slide order and want to go freestyle.

The Outlook mail app also got a Gmail-like “Priority Inbox” update that helps weed out distracting fluff in your mailbox.  Microsoft calls its version  “Focused Inbox” instead.

Google has done some updating of its own this week and has released updates to Google Maps for desktop, Android and iOS. The company tweaked the color scheme and design of the maps to make them cleaner, sharper and easier to read. Google Maps also has new orange-shaded “areas of interest” that show algorithmically selected pods of restaurants, bars and other attractions nearby.  According to the Android Police blog, Google Maps is rolling out notifications for mass-transit delays and a Wi-Fi only mode to help you keep your data allowance under control, too.

Nexus and Android Phone users are getting a nice gift from the Google phone app – a warning that an incoming call may be spam. If you do get a spam call, the app makes it easy to block and report the offender.

And finally, Pokémon Go dating was only a matter of time and yes, now it’s a thing. A company name RazorGo will be coming out with a site and app for Pokémon Go players to chat with their teams or privately. And you know that tune…

Love soft as an easy chair
Love fresh as the morning air
One love that is shared by two
I’ve found thanks to Pikachu

pika

PTJ 194 News: Hot Sales

Summer is a great time for yard sales and farm auctions, and The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Verizon will put up $3 billion dollars for Yahoo’s web assets in the second round of bidding this week.  As Ars Technica noted, if Verizon wins the auction, the company would rule 1990s Cyberspace as the owner of both Yahoo and AOL. A grunge-rock revival could be next!

Virtual assistants continue to pop up in all kinds of hardware and now Microsoft’s Cortana is coming to the company’s Xbox One game console this summer, along with many other new features. And while there’ll be more gaming announcements next week when the E3 show rolls into town,  Blizzard Entertainment is integrating Facebook logins and live video right into its new Overwatch multiplayer game and Battle.net online service.

Apple’s Word Wide Developers Conference kicks off next week. Expect a lot of software-based announcements and maybe a few hardware things. New iPhone hardware probably won’t show up to this party, but the Nikkei Asian Review site is reporting, based on conversations with suppliers and production facilities overseas, that Apple will probably start taking three years between major iPhone model changes. This slowdown is due to a slowing market and because the company is running out of whiz-bang features to unveil every year.

wwdc16

A wireless version of the popular Bose QuietComfort noise-canceling headphones have some industry watchers assuming the next iPhone is going to be the one where Apple gets rid of the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The headphones have a list price of $350 and are supposed to get about 20 hours of listening time between charges.

While 2016 is largely being forecast as a ho-hum year for smartphone innovation from several manufacturers, Bloomberg News is reporting that Samsung might be releasing phones with bendable screens next year. Will the Galaxy line become the Gumby line?

stitcherPodcasts make for fun listening no matter what kind of headphones you have, and now Stitcher Radio, one of the popular podcast apps, has just been snapped up by the old-school media company EW Scripps for $4.5 million dollars in cash. Stitcher, which streams more than 65,000 podcasts including this one, will operate under another Scripps acquisition, the podcast advertisement company Midroll Media.

This week, the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Google to throw out that class-action lawsuit over where advertisements were placed through Google’s AdWords service. Last year’s ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco stands — and the class-action lawsuit can go forward.

In other legal news, tech companies and privacy groups are lining up against proposed legislation  that would let federal officials request even more types of user information in the National Security Letters they send to ISPs, banks, doctors and other recipients during investigations. The House version of the bill passed in April and the Senate version is due for a vote this week.

Microsoft Planner, its teamwork organizer app is headed to Office 365 subscribers over the next few weeks. True to its name, Planner is, uh, software for planning stuff.

twitterTwitter has redesigned its Android app to fall in line with Google’s material design standard. The update is rolling out now. Snapchat also got a fresh new look this week that, among other things, mixes Discover content with Live Stories.

They pumped it up last week and this week, astronauts opened up the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, otherwise known as the International Space Station’s add-on inflatable bouncy castle. An air sample was taken and sensor data downloaded as astronauts prepare to actually use the module.

And finally, although news of the breach just surfaced recently, LinkedIn got hacked in 2012 and millions of user names and passwords were swiped – including those of a one Mr. Mark Zuckerberg of a little company called Facebook whose password was reportedly dadada. A hacker group called Ourmine used the swiped credentials to compromise Mr. Zuckerberg’s accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn for a short time this weekend. It’s a reminder to the rest of us to change our passwords regularly or get a password manager program. Also, don’t recycle them across accounts and don’t use easily crackable codes like. . . dadada.

weak

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Sky Talker

Hate pecking away on a tiny glass keyboard? While that sort of thing may be okay for texting and other short bursts of data entry, it can become wearisome when you want to process a significant amount of words.

Voice search and dictation programs have been around for a while, and both Windows and OS X have had their own speech-to-text recognition functions for years. As we all know, Google Now, Cortana and Siri all response to brief voice commands. But if you want to compose that great American Novel on the go, you can do it without having to download a third-party dictation app, thanks to built-in functions you already have on your mobile device — as long as that device is running a fairly recent version of its maker’s operating system.

Both Android and iOS include the dictation feature, but you may have to enable the service in your system settings if you start yapping and nothing happens. Also, keep in mind that in most cases, your words are being sent up to a server in the sky for translation, so manage your own privacy expectations.

In recent versions or Android, you can dictate documents in Google Docs open in the Chrome browser — and even add punctuation and editing by calling out the commands. Just open a Google Doc and either tap the microphone, or go to the Tools menu and choose Voice Typing. Then dictate your thoughts.

voicetype

If you get no reaction from your Android device, do into the Settings app to Language and Input and make sure Google Voice Typing is enabled. You can tap further into the settings there to make adjustments, like activating the ability to record through a Bluetooth headset or to block any offensive words that may (accidentally, of course) slip into your speech while dictating.

On a compatible iOS device, turn on the speech-to-text feature by going to Settings > General > Keyboard. Flip on the button next to Dictation to enable it. Now, when you want to recite a lengthy bit of text in Notes, Mail or another wordy app, tap the small microphone icon that now resides on the iOS keyboard and start talking.

ios

The dictation feature may not be as precise as an real, live human secretary, but it should get you that first draft with a minimum of actual typing. So grab your phone, yell “Take a memo!” as you tap on the microphone and start talking your typing.